Oregon Tech faculty turn to open source materials to save students more than $400,000 in textbook costs

Faculty at Oregon Institute of Technology, “Oregon Tech,” have been making focused efforts over the last two years to reduce some of the costs associated with textbook materials. Through working with the Open Educational Resources (OER) program, it has saved Oregon Tech students more than $400,000 in textbook costs.

Open educational resources, according to University librarian, John Schoppert, “are freely accessible, high-quality coursework materials made accessible to students to alleviate the high costs of mainstream publisher textbooks. Addressing textbook affordability is critical to student success and retention, and Oregon Tech is focused on addressing that barrier,” he said.

The term OER describes copyrightless restrictive materials and resources for any user to use, remix, reuse, repurpose and redistribute.

There is no cost to the student, and in general no cost to the faculty for adopting, adapting or creating an open resource. The Oregon Tech library has been providing incentives for faculty to use and develop these types of resources.

The process also allows for sharing of knowledge as faculty modify materials for their specific courses, adopt materials to the course needs, or enhance materials with text, images or videos to support different learning styles.

“It’s a very collaborative process,” Schoppert said. “We have a number of faculty who have worked hard on this and are developing lab manuals and open-licensed textbooks where they hadn’t existed before and improved on others’ materials.”

Director of the Portland-Metro campus library, Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, has previously been recognized by Open Oregon Educational Resources for her work expanding access to open education in Oregon. She said one benefit of the program is that students have their materials on the first day of classes and that materials can easily be adapted to a variety of formats to better suit students’ individual needs.

“Traditionally, students who depend on financial aid may not have the financial means necessary to purchase textbooks before the first day of class,” Lowe-Wincentsen said. “By the time students are able to purchase the required course materials, they may find themselves behind in coursework. The OER program ensures students have their materials and are ready to learn from day one.”

On average, an individual student taking one of the supported classes in the pilot program saved $211.89 on text materials. Now, with expanded faculty adoption of open resources, courses at Oregon Tech with OER compatibility range from chemistry and biology, to respiratory care, sociology and engineering.

This year, there are 26 Oregon Tech OER course sections with more than 1,000 registered students and a total estimated savings of $196,120 so far this academic year.

“As we work with faculty to expand more courses to the low and no cost text alternatives, the savings passed to our students will increase,” said Lowe-Wincentsen. “The adoption of open resources allows faculty to adjust the materials to their course needs and gives greater accessibility to the students.”

Oregon Tech faculty who have participated in these resource affordability efforts include: Addie Clark, Kamal Gandi, Randall Paul, Travis Lund, Terri Torres, Sharon Beaudry, Amber Lancaster, Kyle Chapman, James Hulse, MariaLynn Kessler, Rosanna Overholser, Kathleen Adams, Christy VanRooyen, Philip Howard, Eklas Hossain and Jared Emard.

The great work these faculty will be showcased March 2-6 as the Oregon Tech library celebrates Open Education Week. Events and activities will be held to raise awareness on open education, open educational resources and text affordability,

More information about the OER efforts at Oregon Tech are available athttps://subjectguides.library.oit.edu/sp4/subjects/guide.php?subject=oer.